Claire Thornton
Claire Thornton

WSU honors student Claire Thornton grew up hearing stories of her grandfather Dell, a combat medic during World War II. This year, Thornton studied the impact GIs had on Washington State College as they left the war behind and entered the halls of higher education.

Drafted in the Army in April 1942 and stationed with the oft-decorated 3rd Infantry Division, Dell fought in 10 campaigns and participated in four amphibious D-Day landings with more than 500 days of frontline duty. He was wounded three times, received the Bronze Star for valor in battle and the French Croix de Guerre, and was made an honorary member of the French Foreign Legion for walking onto a minefield to save two injured soldiers.

He eventually started a medical practice in Republic, Wash., and cared for the town’s residents for 37 years, seeing patients up to a month before he died in 1998. And Dell was the motivation behind his granddaughter’s final research paper (pdf) in History 300 (Writing about History), which she plans to present at two prominent academic conferences this spring.

Find out more

WSU News